McArthur Krishna: A Woman Who Chose God

Wed Jul 29 10:00:46 EDT 2020
Episode 91

McArthur Krishna is one of the co-authors of the popular book series, Girls Who Choose God. Not long before the first book in the series was published, McArthur faced a significant choice of her own—should she marry her now-husband and move to India with him? Although she still had her concerns when she received an affirmative answer, McArthur trusted the revelation she received and chose God anyway. Now, she is determined to share the stories of other women who chose to follow Him as well.

Our Heavenly Parents sent us to this earth to succeed. …They didn’t send us here to fail. It’s actually not a test; it’s a school to learn and grow.
McArthur Krishna

All three Girls Who Choose God books: 

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women From the Bible

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Extraordinary Women from Church History

Website: Mormon Women Project: Mixed-faith marriage series

Website: Mormon Women Project: Interview with McArthur, "Choosing God and Abundance"

Quote: “So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before" (President Nelson, "A Plea to My Sisters," October 2015).

Show Notes: 
2:00- Moving to India
4:58- “They Know My Husband”
8:32- Home Church Before It Was Cool
11:25- Girls Who Choose God
18:28- Use for Your Talents in Zion
24:34- The Vital Role of Agency in God’s Plan and Parenting
34:58- A Call to “Step Forward”
39:12- When Things Don’t Seem Fair
46:30- What Does It Mean to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Morgan Jones 0:00
In an interview about the series of books she co-authored, Girls Who Choose God, McArthur Krishna said, "The whole process of writing this book has reinforced what my life has taught me in the last few years: that there are numerous ways to choose God. How you do it is not that important in terms of location, occupation, marital status, etc. There is not a cookie-cutter shape to how we should each choose God in our own lives. It can be a vibrant kaleidoscope of solid options, but making that choice, choosing God, is vital. For me, I am clear that the wild ride I am on is God's path, and it is both much more abundant and insane than I ever imagined." McArthur Krishna comes from a pack of storytellers. With a master's degree in communications from BYU, she co-owned Free Range, an award-winning marketing business focused on telling social justice stories. After she moved to the magical land of India, she got married and started writing books and raising kids.

This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones and I am so grateful to have McArthur Krishna here with me today—over the phone, I should say. How are you doing McArthur?

McArthur Krishna 1:25
I'm doing great.

Morgan Jones 1:26
Well, we are so thrilled to have you on the show today, and I am so excited for people to get to know you. But even more so, I work with several people that are really big fans of yours and they've told me bits and pieces of your story over time. So I'd love for you to just share a little bit about your life. You live right now in Oregon, but you've spent the last eight years in India, which is something many of us cannot even wrap our minds around, but I hope there are people listening in India. So tell us a little bit about what took you there, and about you and your family.

McArthur Krishna 2:06
Sure. The easiest and most true answer about what took me to India was God. That I said my prayers, and—okay, that sounds really simple—over the course of an entire year, because I doubted God. Because I doubted what was in front of me. I was praying and fasting literally once a month, talking to my Bishop and friends and parents, and at the end of the day, I turned to God and said, "What am I supposed to do with this?" And I got back to the most clear answer to prayer that I was to marry my husband and move to India. So it's one of those things where it was both the most cognitive dissonance I've ever had in my life, and at the same time, once you have an absolutely clear answer—which is not always the way prayer works, but in this case it was, thank goodness that it was very easy—you just do it.

Morgan Jones 2:59
Yeah. Tell us a little bit about why there was that cognitive dissonance.

McArthur Krishna 3:05
Oh, a long list. So my husband is a very spiritual person but is not of our faith. And that was not something, obviously, I'd ever expected in my life. In fact, he said to me, "I know getting married in the temple is really important to you, so how about you just go inside and you get married in the temple, and I'll just be outside waiting for you." And I said, "Oh, sweetheart. If I'm going in, I'm not marrying you." And he's like, "Oh, that's a bad plan. Bad plan. I take that back." So that was one of the main reasons. When I finally actually told my mother, I was like, "Mom, this is the person I'm supposed to marry." She said, "Oh, yes, dear. I've known for a year, I've just been waiting for you to figure it out." Which is like the best example of mothering, right? That she was so in tune with God that she had the answer first, but she knew her daughter well enough to know that I had to have the answer on my own. And she trusted God enough that when they answer came back rather unorthodox, that she was willing to have the faith to let me follow that. So I think it's actually a quintessential example of my mother's parenting, where she was always in tune with God, and we always trusted that, but she also knew that we had to have our own relationship, and she also knew that we had to have agency to grow and develop that as people and develop that relationship with Deity on our own. So yeah, it was a tender mercy that, when life takes you for a very different turn, that you have the comfort of parents and their trust in your answers and their own answers.

Morgan Jones 4:39
Yeah. I think this is something that we should pause and talk about because I think it's so important. There are many people within the church that are in this same circumstance of being a member of a "part-member family" and trying to figure out the balance of, you know, how do you talk about things of faith? And how much in your home, or how little, and I'm curious about your thoughts about how you've been able to make that work.

McArthur Krishna 5:15
Yeah. One thing I should be very clear on is that everybody's path is different, so I can talk about my path, but that in no way implies it should be somebody else's path. The Mormon Women Project also just did a series of mixed-faith interviews, messages, essays, so they gathered a wide range of people who are experiencing this in very different ways, so I'd recommend whoever's listening if this is something you're interested in, I'd go find that. Go look at the Mormon Women Project and read the range of experiences. Because everybody's doing that different.

Morgan Jones 5:50
I love the Mormon Women Project, by the way.

McArthur Krishna 5:53
Yeah, they're amazing. So in my case, I think it was—I will say, I feel really blessed. Because I had a very clear, like I said, the most clear answer to prayer I've ever had. It was like the Joseph Smith collide, right? Like, God knew that I knew. So when you have that kind of assurance—which is not the way that answers prayer, in my world, at least usually happen—then it means that everything else, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, like all caps, is manageable. Everything in my instance involved like, let me think: India mafia, Cobras, not always having running water and electricity, crazy hot temperatures. You know, all of the deprivations. There's so much chaos and craziness. I mean, there's all the India that I love, there's all the India craziness, and then there's like a situation that wouldn't even be on your radar. Right? Like, you never in your life expect that you're going to be sitting in an Indian police station, having a conversation that feels a little bit like a Bollywood movie with the fan thumping, and the dog running through, and the man across the desk massaging his mustache. And you're just like, "How in the world did I get here? Oh right, I follow God, right." So, for me, that mixed-faith piece of it means that God—Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother—know my husband. They know he is good. They know that the path we're going to be on is different than the path I would have expected. But that does not mean it is a "bad path," right? And so, because my situation meant that I had this very clear answer to prayer, that meant that I could be like, "Lord, you knew this was going to be tricky." And it's tricky. I mean, that's the bottom line. It's tricky. But I believe in the benevolence and omniscience of Heavenly Parents, so that means They understood this was going to be tricky, and that was acceptable to Them. It was acceptable to Them that my marriage and my faith and this trickiness was all going to be part of that package. So that means that even when I find it, like, "banging my head against the wall" challenging that I assume that they're like, "Yes, yes, yes. Yes, dear." It'll be okay.

Morgan Jones 8:28
Yeah. So interesting. From what I understand, you have one child together, and then did he have daughters before?

McArthur Krishna 8:42
Yeah, so I have three daughters. They are 17, 11, and 4, and the oldest two are biologically from my husband's first marriage. So that's been interesting because they're obviously raised in a different—maybe not obviously—they're raised in a different faith tradition, mostly by their grandmother and kind of the culture around them. My husband would call himself—well, he likes to be provocateur, so he calls himself a Pagan, but really, he's more of a seeker. He's interested in the universe and spirituality and he sees rich and deep meaning, but he seeks it out from lots of different places. My oldest two children would probably call themselves Hindu, but my oldest daughter is observing Ramadan this week. It's a different set of structures. When I was living in rural India for eight years, the closest church was more than 400 miles away, and those are Indian miles, not like interstate miles. So that meant it was like a 16-hour car drive or an overnight train ride or a plane ride to go to church. So that meant a lot of times, we were doing home church, and which is hysterical, so when all of this happened with Come, Follow Me and then COVID, I had friends email immediately, like, "You're the professional. You've been doing this for eight years." And so we did lots and lots of home church. Every Sunday, we'd gather and we'd have a spiritual thought and message. That has been very—well, I was gonna say very satisfying. Really, it's been a mix. So it's not what I was used to, and it's certainly not what my oldest children were used to. So it was a riot, my 17-year-old came to me was like, "I don't want to do this. This is just not comfortable for me and it's not what I'm used to." And I just started snickering, because I thought I was gonna avoid this conversation since I'm not a mom forcing my teenager to go to church. I thought I was just gonna skirt that whole power struggle challenge between a parent and a teenager about church attendance, and here I'm having the exact same conversation with my Muslim-Hindu-something about sitting around the front lawn to have a family church, which is much less onerous than the church building kind of structure. So you don't escape the teenage discussions no matter what.

Morgan Jones 11:09
Yeah, no. And I think that's such a good point to make, that no matter what you do, there's going to be that tension with teenagers. I think that that's such a valuable insight. McArthur, I am curious about whether or not it was at this experience that led you to write Girls Who Choose God, or what was it that ultimately led to these books?

McArthur Krishna 11:36
Yeah. So, Bethany Brady Spalding is a dear friend and co-author, and now we've worked together for 10 years on a whole bunch of different books. We really know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and we work really, really well together as a team. I wish she could be here today, but I'm going to brag about her since she's not. Bethany is the kind of person that, when she looks around and she sees the landscape of something, she's really good at being able to spot the hole or spot the problem or spot the lack. And in this kind of instance, it must be a genetic trait, because her 3-year-old had picked up a cartoon book of the Bible, and flipped through it and turned to her mom and said, "Mom, where are the stories about the girls? I want to read about girls." So Bethany picks up the book and flips through, and lo and behold, even though it was a storybook about the Bible, where there are plenty of women, there was not a single story of a woman in that book. Not one. And a 3-year-old had been able to spot that. So being Bethany, most people have been like, "well, that's such a bummer," but Bethany started looking around, and this is about 10 years ago, and she couldn't find a single book. She said, "How can this not exist? In all of the faith traditions, how can this not exist, that people want to teach their girls and their boys about faithful, righteous women?" And it didn't exist. So she called me up and said, "Hey, I know you're writing stories, I think we should team up and do this project."

We were so lucky that it got the attention of Desert Book, and that Desert Book also saw the need and saw the hole around this. In fact, we had pitched doing one book with kind of a compilation of women, but Deseret Book is the one who said we should splice it out and make it into Bible, Book of Mormon, and Church history books. Because, as we all know, there are rich and abundant and powerful stories, like in the Bible stories were some of the most important women. We're talking Eve and making the choice in the garden, that she was the first one to do that; to the woman at the well who was the first person that Christ declared His divinity to; to His mother; to Mary Magdalene who is first person He appears to after the tomb. Here are the women in these very crucial moments of Christ's life and ministry being the first person that He chose to interact with in that way. These are amazing women, these are amazing stories, and both girls and boys need to know these things. So, Bethany and I sat down, and said, "Well, there's not just a hole, but we're going to do something about it."

So we started writing these series of books, trying to emphasize that these women had a choice to make. And we were very, very careful. So we went through the scriptures and we picked out women with stories we were excited about. But one of the catches in our format is, you have to be able to show a moment of choice. So what we wanted to highlight here is that women in the stories are faced with this moment where they have to decide whether or not they're going to choose God's plan for them, and then you turn the page and you hear what the story is. But we didn't want to just extrapolate or make things up, we wanted to really be able to show that there was this choice. So we were really careful as we went through when we read the scriptures, and we talked about what the women had done. And of course this is so important, because each of us every day has that same question placed in front of us. Sometimes it may be a small moment, or sometimes it may be a huge moment, like whether or not you're going to move to India. But at the end of the day, each of us have this moment—many, many, many moments—where we have the opportunity to say that we're going to choose God.

So for us, it was amazing because in going through and reading these, like when we were doing the Bible version, there were stories I had never even heard of. There were four young girls who came to Moses because their righteous father had died, and under Jewish law, only sons would inherit, so they're about to be homeless in the promised land. So they came to Moses and said, "Wait a second, this isn't fair." And Moses took it to God and I love this quote, God comes back to Moses and said, "The daughters of Zelophehad speak right." How's that for like a divine validation, right? The girls get the law of the land changed. It's an incredible model of not accepting social injustice and using your power and righteousness and faith to go and work through the system to make sure that things change, that just because things are the way they are does not mean it is the way they should be. And that's an amazing concept to teach young children. So that was incredible. And then, of course we wanted to tackle the Book of Mormon, and at first we thought, "Yeah, but there aren't enough women in the Book of Mormon." I mean, that was my assumption, as it is with most of us, and then all of a sudden, I was reading through and I was reading this article about all the women in the Book of Mormon who just don't have names, and then this huge light bulb turned on in my head and I thought, "Wait a second. Of course there are women there. It doesn't matter if—I mean, it does matter if they have names or not—but it doesn't matter for the sake of a story. So we can write a book. If we can show there's a moment of choice, like in the instance of the people going to the waters of Mormon to be baptized, those people chose to be baptized. That's a choice. We can show that." So we were able to go through the Book of Mormon and find stories of women who were choosing God.

Then we had the exact opposite problem when we hit Church history because there are a gazillion women, and a gazillion amounts of information, good golly! I mean, it was just like, drinking from the firehose. We were so blessed, because we contacted a gang of Church historians, and we said, "There's no way we can get through all of this. We're not professionals." And so they were incredibly gracious and kind and had lunches and phone calls and conference calls. They just tossed us a whole bunch of names to sift through; and then when we selected them, they gave us lots of resources for information; and then when we wrote the stories, they looked over them to make sure that we weren't talking crazy. So we were so grateful to have them for this. The reason for me that all of these things matter so much is that we have a pattern. When you have one dot, it's a moment in time. When you have two dots, it's a trend. When you have three dots, it's a pattern. When you have dozens have dots, that shows you that there is an intention here, and the intention of our Heavenly Parents is to have their daughters and their sons both be active, contributing, growing spiritual members of this life experience.

It is not that one gender is supposed to learn and grow and be spiritual, and the other gender is supposed to play a supportive role. That's not it, actually. We take turns supporting one another. Each of our own individual growth and spirituality and relationship with God is of utmost importance. And I think having this pattern of all these women through the Bible and Book of Mormon and Church history is so important to show young girls that they have a model of what it means to be a woman who served God, and at the same time, I hope opens it up for them. There's so many different models in these books that it's very, very clear that there's not a cookie-cutter that any person should have to be. There's no way you can say, "Oh, look at this person's life. If they live here, dress like this, have this kind of house, have these kinds of habits, they must be a person of God." And in fact, when you look at these stories, they lived and functioned, and even sometimes contradictorily serve God.

So there's one story we have in the Church history where it talks about that her choice to serve God was that she was meek and mild and she was gentle in how she spoke to people, hat she was this warm and loving soul, and those are her talents that she spread through the contacts and the relationships she had. She was called "the great mother." And I think that's incredible. But on the flip side, there are other women who were known for being fiery orators that could stand in front of a crowd, and they could move them, and that was their talent: to really bring people together and to create this force of energy. What I love about these is that both of these women have kind of diametrically opposed talents that are all useful. There's always a use for your talent in Zion. And I think that that's a really important concept for people to internalize as far as how they are raising their kids and how kids and youth are looking around and trying to figure out what to do with their talents.

Morgan Jones 20:35
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that is such an important thing to realize because I think sometimes we look at—I know for myself, I am fairly opinionated and sometimes lack a filter, but I, I have noted that when I was younger, I think I sometimes thought that that made me less of a woman. And I have learned over time that that is not the case, it just means that we all have different strengths. So I think that's such an important thing to teach children and to illustrate, like, this woman had these talents, and this woman had these talents, and they were both incredible women.

McArthur Krishna 21:17
Lucy Mack Smith stood on a barrel and called out to not just—okay, so back up. Lucy Mack Smith was elected to be the head of a group of Saints moving, and there were about 80 men, women and children. Some of the presiding bishopric were in that group, and the group elected Lucy Mack Smith to be the head. Being the head meant she was in charge of transportation and finances and arranging logistics and lodging and food. She was the coordinator. But there was a moment in time when their ship got stuck because they were frozen in and they're getting cold and hungry, and they don't know what they're going to do. And Lucy Mack Smith stands on a barrel and berates them and any passerby who happens to be walking by. And she gives this speech of, "Where is your faith? How have you forgotten your faith?" And people walking by are like, "Why are you yelling?" "We be Mormon!" And to me, when you're talking about yourself and you're talking about these talents that you bring to the world—I would call them talents.

Morgan Jones 22:16
Thank you, I appreciate that.

McArthur Krishna 22:18
You're welcome. Maybe just because I relate. But every single talent can be used for good. I mean, I think that's the power of divinity, right? It's not just like a silver lining. It's like the most divine, sparkly, shiny lining. It's not just a lining, it is the thing. It's like its core essence, right? Every core essence is shiny and sparkly divine. So if you can be Porter Rockwell, a gunslinger who puts the fear of Jehovah into the hearts of people and he can have his talents used for Joseph Smith, then being an outspoken woman also absolutely has its place and talent. And the story with Lucy Mack Smith, where she said, "If we put our faith together and we remember, God can answer our prayers this very moment," and there was a thunderous crack and the ice split, and they were the only ship that got through.

Morgan Jones 23:12

McArthur Krishna 23:13
So if you were in that situation, you want a Morgan standing on that barrel. "Listen up, people!" I've got opinions about this." I think that understanding that about Lucy Mack Smith, and understanding that about yourself, that there's a place for all of us. I think it was Elder Holland that was talking about like, a place in the tent. You stretch your stakes out, and there's a place. I just think it's such a beautiful idea that all of our talents are God-given. Even personality traits, I think, are God-given. So maybe some of those we have to learn, "How do I make sure my outspokenness doesn't injure people? How do I make sure my outspokenness doesn't overshadow other people?" I mean, there are ways to learn how to use your tool with finesse, but that doesn't mean the tool is anything other than a gift from God.

Morgan Jones 24:07
Yeah. Well, I think just as we talk about how our strengths can become our weaknesses, our weaknesses can become our strengths, and what is the difference-maker there, it's whether we're coming unto God and talking to Him about those strengths and those weaknesses, and trying to work to make sure that they are being used in the best way possible. I think that is such a powerful thought. McArthur, I want to talk a little bit more about choice and agency. So in this book, the thing that I really love is you tell the story of the woman, whether it be in the Book of Mormon or the Bible or Church history, and then there is a question, and the question deals with choice and how these women chose God in their particular situation. Why do you think agency is so key in our Heavenly Father's plan? And why is it so important to teach our children about agency starting at a young age?

McArthur Krishna 25:16
So I think there are a couple of really important ideas in there, and honestly, I get most of this from my own parents. I think my mother and father were really good at striking this balance. So I think there are a couple things wrapped in there, like our Heavenly Parents sent us to this earth to succeed, right? That's a really important idea. They didn't send us here to fail. It's actually not a test. It's a school to learn and grow. So if you approach, as a parent, that idea that your child is here to learn and grow, the way you do that is through exercising agency, through choosing. Our Heavenly Parents thought that was important enough, that they're willing to wage a battle for it in heaven? They're willing to have a third of Their children choose a different way? I mean, that's how vital They thought it was. So if They think it is this vital to let agency be the setup of life, then that means we, as parents, also have to follow that divine plan, even at the risk—which I think every parent has heart palpitations of some kind or another over spiritual or physical or emotional danger to their child, so I'm not talking about being an irresponsible parent, but I'm talking about, as parents, understanding that the importance of agency was big enough that our Heavenly Parents are willing to put that much on the line.

From my standpoint, I think my parents, especially my mom, would talk to us a lot about this. She would say that she could not teach us to manage every situation in life. There's no way. As a parent, you so want to. You want to prepare your child to do well at preschool and be successful in kindergarten and make friends and do well in school. I mean, all of these things, you just keep thinking in your mind, like, "I'm just preparing my kids, I'm preparing my kid for it." And you want to make sure you put structures around it, and no screen time and you know, et cetera, et cetera. But at the end of the day, we're all human. There's no way my mom could have understood that I was going to end up married and moving to India, right? There's no way, probably, that most parents would have predicted a world pandemic. So I think that my mom's model is she'd say, "I cannot teach you everything you need to know, the only source for all knowledge is God." And so if you can turn to your Heavenly Parents, and you can say, "Dear Heavenly Father, I need your help on this." And she modeled this all the time, from very, very small to very big things, but she also taught us. Like when we would come to her and say, "Mom, where do we go to college? Or do we do this job? Or do we marry this person?" We always knew the very first question would be, "Have you said your prayers?"

So I think, as a parent letting agency grow, that you start small. A toddler should not be allowed to have agency to wander next to the pond by themselves. As they get older and older, you as a parent have to be willing to step back and let them experience what this earth life "school" was really meant to do, which was to create learning opportunities. You do the best you can, but at the end of the day, you actually cannot choose it for them, and you can't live it for them, even though I think it's the closest a human parent can come to understanding the atonement, is to understand that you would take your child's pain, if you could. And that's not me—obviously, there's a large gap between divinity and us. But in a very, very small model, I think parents would say, "Absolutely. If I didn't have to have my child experience these painful things, then I would. I would choose to take that away from them." But in the same way, that's not choosing our Heavenly Parents' plan. They put us on this earth. In fact, we voted. We chose to come to this life, and our children have spirits that also had the opportunity to vote, and they chose to come to have this experience.

So having this experience that says, "Hmm, pain or discomfort or hard knocks are not maybe the way we would always learn, but it is learning." And learning and growth is the point, right? It is the point of earth life, to become more like our best, most divine selves, like our older Brother and our Heavenly Parents. So for me, it's one of those really hard things to balance. I think you're always doing this kind of uncomfortable tango, where you're trying to be like, "Okay, let's go over here and provide structure." Like, "Yes, you have to eat healthy food." And then you back up over here and you say, "But okay, you can choose whether or not you want to stay in your jammies all day." I mean, every parent has to decide what things they're gonna be very sharp and crisp on and what things are going to be fluid on, but all of us have to keep in mind that our Heavenly Parents designed this earth live to be a school and to be a learning environment. And They know that we want to keep our children as safe as we can, but if safety takes away learning, then we're not furthering the plan. And you just have to decide on what ratio you allow between safety and learning for every single topic.

Morgan Jones 30:46
Yeah. You bring up so many interesting points, but it brings up some thoughts that I've had over the past couple of weeks, just in that I think a parent's responsibility is to, 1) teach to their kids to be good people, and 2) to encourage them in learning how to make these choices. The reason I've been thinking about it is I've been thinking about how in my own life, I feel like my testimony, right now, as it is at this moment, is the result of things that I've experienced in the last five years. So while I think my parents taught me so many good things, I would say the most important thing they taught me was how to build a relationship with God and to receive answers for myself. I think that these things that you're talking about are so important because our kids are going to grow up to be adults, and they're going to have experiences, things, like you said, your parents had no way of knowing that you were going to experience, and certainly you've experienced things they never experienced. My mom was never single for an entire decade when she felt like she should be married, you know? So there are just different things that we've experienced.

McArthur Krishna 32:12
I was 37 when I got married.

Morgan Jones 32:14
You can relate. You got me McArthur, thank you for that.

McArthur Krishna 32:17
Yeah, I was 37. And my mom at 37, I think had six children, so we had very different life paths. And that's what I was talking about at the beginning, where I was saying, "You can't say this woman on this path is living a righteous life." You know, you can't say that, "Oh, 37 and single, they must not be righteous," or, "Six kids and 37, she must be a righteous woman." You can't hold up these things as definitions. Because quite literally, if we believe our Heavenly Parents are the master educators, like They are the experts on knowing how to develop our souls along this eternal path, then They know what our path needs to look like, and that different people have different souls and lead different paths. And if that isn't just obvious—okay, let's just back up here for a second. To me, that's obvious. But even if you said like, "But we're all of Latter-day Saint faith, or we're all 'XYZ,' all the things that make us similar," then just take another half a step back and look at the broader world. And if you don't think that a woman in India, is on a different life path than me or you or anyone who's listening to this, it is a different life path. And if we think that this earth is well under the purview of our Heavenly Parents, then that means that her life path is just as much developmentally created for her growth as mine is for me, even though they look very, very different. I'm talking about just basics. Like, well, my house in India had a backup generator, so when we lost electricity, I could still turn the generator on. It might be expensive, and we might try not to that very often and XYZ, but I had the option. I had indoor plumbing. That was part of my existence, but that was not the existence of the 10,000 neighbors who lived in the village next door to me. These are kind of silly, frivolous examples, but every single person's life is very different. And that's true whether or not you live next door to your neighbor in Daybreak, or if you live in Portland, Oregon, or my neighbors in the village in India. Everyone's on their own developmental journey.

Morgan Jones 32:17
Yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. I have two more questions before we wrap up. But before we get to that, first of all, I just want to congratulate you. You and Bethany just won a big award.

McArthur Krishna 35:08
Yes, we did. So Bethany and I, and Kathy Peterson. She's the gracious, incredible, talented illustrator.

Morgan Jones 35:14
The illustrator. So, so talented.

McArthur Krishna 35:16
Yeah, from the Girls who Choose God series. So we just got notice that the Association of Mormon Letters has awarded the Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Extraordinary Women from Church History the Picture Book Award of the Year, which is so fabulous in so many ways. The reason I think this is so fabulous is because the association tries to pick out works that they feel are particularly representative or needed or important, and the reason that I think the Girls Who Choose God Church history book is so relevant right now is kind of threefold. One is that, obviously, this year, we're highlighting and celebrating the Restoration and what those truths mean in our lives, and how that changes our lives and the world, and the role that these Church history women had in that restoration is significant and real. So for us to have a chance to highlight their contributions is so important always, but especially this year, as we're talking about the early days of the Church. It's also significant because 2020 is the hundred year anniversary of when women were granted the right to vote as a group in America, which is a very big thing. We know that equality is divine, and men and women both participating is divine, so for us to have this chance to mark and say that women and men both fought for this right, and some of the suffragettes that we've mentioned in the book have the opportunity to talk about how they used to go to Relief Society meetings and organize Relief Society groups, and to voting blocs. I mean, it's just such a powerful model of a group of women who sees an injustice in the world can get together and have the power of God to make change in the world, so that's really exciting. And last is, I think so much about President Nelson's injunction, and President Nelson has this amazing quote, I should have had it word-for-word here, I apologize. But he has this amazing quote where he calls upon women to step forward, to step in "all in"—it's exactly what you need for this series, Morgan—to step into their families and their communities and their world to use their talents. So when we talk about a woman who is a "stay-at-home mother"—which is a silly term because no woman I know stays at home full-time, she's running all over the place crazy busy. But if you're talking about a woman who is a full-time mom or a part-time mom or not a mom, whatever it is, whatever situation you find yourself in, President Nelson says, "Now is the time to step in and use your talents." And I'm not trying to say to everybody, again, there's a great quote from conference about whether your 1000 watt bulb or a 20-watt bulb, the point is, you're not the bulb, right? Christ is our light, and we aim people to him. But from my standpoint, like all of those thoughts swirling together is President Nelson, and this last General Conference talking about using your talents in whatever sphere you're in to count yourself in for goodness. So for me, to have the Association of Mormon Letters say, "Yes, this book, these stories of these ordinary women is also appropriate and applicable today to remind us that there are all these different talents and all these different ways that they can be a force for good." And I'm not trying to make anyone have a guilt trip, that is the last thing I would ever do. I would just say do whatever sphere you are in, you have the opportunity to be a force for good.

Morgan Jones 39:04
Yeah. Thank you so much. I'm so glad you brought up the Mormon Women Project, because I love something that you said there. You said, "I've learned that when you're faced with something that doesn't seem fair, it's an opportunity to choose to strengthen your relationship with God." Obviously, this is talking about your decision, your choice that you made to marry your husband, and that was not an easy choice for you. So what have you learned about that—that when something doesn't seem fair, it's an opportunity to choose to strengthen your relationship with God? And how have you seen your relationship strengthened as a result of that time in your life?

McArthur Krishna 39:52
Yeah, it's so interesting. And first of all, we should pause and say—my poor husband. He's a marvelous human, we shouldn't make it all out to like, "Oh, so difficult to marry him." Right? Like, poor guy.

Morgan Jones 40:05
I'm sure he's fantastic. I actually wish we had him on here to defend himself.

McArthur Krishna 40:13
You should interview him, he'd be good. And he's fantastic, because I wouldn't have married someone who wasn't. I was in a meeting once and a woman said, "If we're for this age and single, we must be going for the dregs," and I would have stood up and walked out had my roommate not put a restraining arm on me. Because I do not think that's true at all.

Morgan Jones 40:37
I have the exact opposite attitude, so there's that.

McArthur Krishna 40:45
Yes, I choose fantastic, and whoever chooses me gets fantastic. There's room to work on all of us, but let's just be clear about, we are sons and daughters of God. Right?

Morgan Jones 40:56

McArthur Krishna 40:57
So I would say, it's interesting that you just mentioned this because actually I was just proofreading another article for the Mormon Women Project about faith, and I would like to say that it was just this springboard to great and glorious faith. Wouldn't that be a nice answer, if I could actually give that answer? Instead, what I experienced as I went through this year of time, probably two years of time, where I was as righteous as I've ever been, because I had to make so sure that the answer I was getting was crisp and clear and not coming from me. I had to be 100% sure, or I was going to lose my mind. So I went through that period of time—in fact, I'll quote you this—the experience I had, was I was grouchy. And I said to God, "Really? I'm 37 years old, and I've tried to live a righteous life and I'm trying to say my prayers and do all these things, and you could have smoothed this path."

My prayers aren't really known for their humility, but they are known for their authenticity. So I had that conversation. And it was amazing. It was, again, one of those moments—this is fascinating. Some of the most clear answers to prayers and the most clear interaction I've had with God have been around my relationship with my husband, which is so interesting, right? Like, whether or not I should go to BYU, or whether or not I should go to graduate school, like all of those were "meh." But the husband got the most crystal communication I've had. So when I was having this kind of grouchy conversation, I paused in a snit, and it came very clearly to me: "I could have done it that way. And you would have had a relationship with him, your husband. This way, you have a relationship with him and with me." ME, all caps. And I was so humbled. Like, oh, all of that cognitive dissonance, curling up in the fetal position, not knowing what I should do because, could this possibly be right? "Really, this is right?" All the suffering that I went through as a result of this gave me a relationship with my Heavenly Father, because I prayed to Him as desperately as I ever had. And I would like to say that that was forevermore, firmly rooted in my soul. But the truth is, I went through the next few years of life, and there were things that just got harder. So I didn't know it was possible.

Morgan Jones 43:44
Yeah, it's interesting how that works. You're like, "I think I deserve the easy train at this point."

McArthur Krishna 43:51
Right? Like, "Excuse me, I followed your path. It should just flow out. Where's the land of milk and honey?" And instead, I had more wrenching-ness—that's a word, wrenching-ness. Then all of a sudden, I realized one day that the mistake I was making is that I was not turning to God the way I had previously. Isn't that interesting? I'd learned this. I had learned this big, bold, glorious, and warming truth, and somehow I wasn't living it. Why do we, as humans, do that? And it was so fascinating to me to realize that I had actually totally backslid. So when you ask me, like, "What relationship have you developed in this and where have you gotten to?" I'm like, "I hit a fabulous Pinnacle, and then I just slid down the other side of the mountain." And to realize that this earth life is that exact ride, probably over and over and over again, that if we're not constantly, continuously turning to God, that we're gonna slide down that valley. Or we do, and we're in the valley, and we turn to God then.

There's no time where it's not a good idea to turn to God. Whether or not you feel dirty, whether or not you feel wicked, whether or not you feel a failure, whether or not you feel irresponsible, whether or not you feel brain-exploding cognitive dissonance. It does not matter. Whether or not you feel beautiful and pure and holy. All of those times, wherever you are, is the time to remember that you have Heavenly Parents who love you and to get—I was gonna say get down on your knees, but it doesn't matter. Like, curl up in a fetal position, whatever you need to do to turn to God and say, "Be with me." And I guess that's the success story in this. It's not the pinnacle, but the success story is the continued realization for the need to recommit and try again. This life is about trying again and trying again and trying again. So someone's out there listening, they shouldn't hold me up as the model. I've been accused of being stubborn, and that is one of my strengths/weaknesses, depending on the situation. And so if I've learned that even if I've given up, or I've given up on my Heavenly Parents' plan, that They don't give up, and that's a really important thing.

Morgan Jones 46:29
That's beautiful. Thank you McArthur. I feel like you've already taught us so many things about this. But as is customary, the last question that I have for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

McArthur Krishna 46:45
So that's a very interesting question because it can be tackled a number of different ways. When I'd heard that question before, I had assumed it was kind of all the answers I just talked about, but then something just hit my brain, and maybe this is inspiration. I don't know. And what had occurred to me is, when we're talking about being "all in," what first occurs to me is commitment or intention or saying, "Count me in," or when I talk about President Nelson's "Step into the world." All of those big, glorious, kind of banner-waving things. Then the thing that just hit my brain is, all in actually means all of us is welcome. And I mean, all of us as an entire humanity is welcome, but I also mean, on the micro-level, all of me is welcome. So if I'm going to be all in, that means I bring my whole self. That means foibles and imperfections and stubbornness and feistiness and opinions and energy and laziness and whatever else. Being all in means my Heavenly Parents and my brother Jesus always love me. And if you know that, it's easy. Well, it's not easy, but if you know that, then it's possible to be all in, because all of you is welcome. I think that is a really important idea.

Morgan Jones 48:15
Thank you so much. I'm gonna call it inspiration, too. So, there's that. McArthur, thank you so much. You are such a pleasure to talk to and thank you for being so open and sharing so many wonderful thoughts with us.

McArthur Krishna 48:31
You're welcome. It's been my pleasure to be here. I sincerely hope that to me words matter, and I hear words that can spark my soul and so I hope something here today is sparked for someone else.

Morgan Jones 48:43
Thank you. We are so grateful to McArthur Krishna for joining us on today's episode. Be sure to check out the Girls Who Choose God series at Desert Book stores, or on desertbook.com. A big thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at 6 Studios, and thank you all for listening. We'll be with you again next week.

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